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Will this professor’s site help you find your ‘Missed Connections’?

Missed Connection

You’ve heard the story before: Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, and by the time they realized something special might be there, it was all too late. But of course, since this is the 21st century, romantic hopefuls still flock to Craigslist.org’s Missed Connections section to either post or find an ad looking for each other. Now, there’s a site to help make that process a little easier.

Luke DuBois, a digital media professor at Polytechnic Institute of NYU and the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center, created an algorithm to expedite the process of finding those who might have posted about each other on Missed Connections. The unnamed site plays Cupid by scouring the section from nine major cities and running through those posts to compare word matches from different listings in the same city. If the highlighted words deem to be a close match, users are sent to the original listings and suggested to e-mail the authors in hopes that the person just might be the sweetheart they’ve been searching for.

“Simple words like ‘of’ and ‘the’ have a very low score; nouns and verbs like ‘train’ and ‘kiss’ have a medium score; adjectives and adverbs like ‘blue’ and ‘softly’ have a high score,” DuBois explained on the site. “Proper names like ‘kevin’ and ‘chelsea’ will score highest of all.” 

To date, the professor has alerted eight potential couples scoring above 85 percent, including a man who met the girl of his dreams while eating salami. The girl posted another ad looking for him, recalling that he had bummed one of her cigarettes. It has yet to be confirmed if these matches were actually successful.

In theory, the site sounds like a ingenious idea and certainly should increase the chances of finding Missed Connection matches. However, the algorithm does come with some flags. Since DuBois aimed it to be a community experiment, the site’s interface looks like an 8-bit introduction screen for a vintage video game. The program cannot sift between spam and real listings, and can also run slow since the hosting isn’t meant for a mass audience. The human aspect of how people use Craigslist also affects the algorithm, as women tend to remember smaller details and write more descriptively than their male counterparts. In general, Missed Connections posts also run on the shorter side, making a computer-operated search that much more difficult.

“You have to hope that someone is out there looking for you as well,” Julie Spira, an online dating expert told The Brooklyn Paper. “If you’re going to post something on ‘Missed Connections,’ look for them on LinkedIn or Facebook too, but don’t come across as a stalker. Make your communication light and easy.”

Will you be the next to have a Missed Connection alert sent to you? Test the site out yourself, which currently covers New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Phoenix, Providence, Denver, Vancouver, Belfast and London.